Promise to 3k workers at beleaguered casino

A deal has been brokered to save the jobs of 3000 workers at Sydney’s struggling Star casino. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Damian Shaw

The NSW government will move to cement a deal to protect the jobs of 3000 workers at Sydney’s struggling Star casino in exchange for significantly reduced pokies tax rates.

Legislation to confirm the arrangement will be introduced to parliament this week.

The announcement comes as Sydney’s major casinos, The Star and The Crown, have agreed to increased tax rates on table duties that will be backdated to July 1, 2023.

Legislation will also be introduced to protect more than 3000 workers at The Star over the next six years, in exchange for a transitional tax levy on poker machine duties.

NSW Treasurer Daniel Mookhey claimed the casino would have gone under without government intervention.

While the table rates implemented for The Crown will remain the same as what was established under the former Coalition government, The Star will receive significantly reduced rates on its income from poker machines. Under the previous arrangement, the highest-performing machines would be taxed at 60.7 per cent.

The NSW government will introduce legislation that will protect more than 300 workers at The Star in exchange for reduced poker machine taxes. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Damian Shaw

Announcing the new arrangement in August, Mr Mookhey argued at the time they were made without consultation with the casino and didn’t consider how they would affect their operations.

The Star’s lifeline means poker machines will be taxed at 20.91 per cent until June 30, 2024, before rates increase to 22.91 per cent from July 1, 2027 until 2030. The move is estimated to draw in $2.7bn over 10 years; however, tax changes could be made if The Star recovers faster than expected.

Accusing the former government of bungling its casinos policy, the Treasurer said the negotiations were “one of the most difficult challenges I inherited”.

“The government can now proceed with legislation which will see more than 3000 workers have their jobs protected at The Star,” he said.

Previously, Nine Newspapers reported The Crown had made an unsuccessful appeal to the government for a tax reprieve after it flagged 180 jobs would be cut after it was forced to reduce its trading hours.

In Tuesday’s media release, Mr Mookhey acknowledged Crown’s predicament and said he would continue to engage with stakeholders.

“I note The Crown has made it clear that recent job losses arise from their trading conditions,” he said.

“The government will continue to engage with Crown and The Star, as well as worker representatives, on their operating models and regulatory frameworks – especially as both are remediating their businesses.”

Opposition spokesperson for gaming Kevin Anderson accused Labor of making a “tricky tax deals between poker machines and card tables at the state’s major casinos”.

“While the Opposition will always welcome saving jobs, this new agreement is largely letting these big enterprises off the hook by allowing them to operate under a pay as you can approach,” he said. “The former Liberal and Nationals Government fully supported the recommendations of the Bell and Bergin inquiries into operations at the Crown and the Star, to introduce additional measures to strengthen compliance requirements including serious penalties.

“The Previous Government forced both casinos to implement a considerable reform agenda and as a result set up the platform for them to continue to operate.”